Why A Thread Lift Is The New Facelift

Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop-endorsed thread lifts are appearance medicine’s answer to sew and mend. Except instead of hemming a sagging skirt, you’re hitching up your lower face, says Fiona Hawtin


Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop lifestyle website helped spark interest in how thread lifts had updated. Photo / Getty Images

In my 20s my wish list included “facelift” for when the time came. But I’ve learned the hard way about permanent appearance medicine fixes, and have since been reconsidering surgery. Long story but I had some permanent filler injected into my nasolabial lines years ago and lived to regret it. It became infected, looked like I was forever sucking on a gobstopper and, because the ageing process continues, the filler moved too.

So, I’ve only gone the way of temporary solutions: Botox, hyaluronic fillers and, most recently, thread lifts.

The thread lift has been a revelation. It’s been a long time coming for Clinic 42’s Dr Joanna Romanowska. She is nothing if not cautious and won’t add anything to her arsenal until she considers it has been proven safe. Thread lifts have been around for at least 15 years, but back then the thread was permanent and she had concerns around them. Infections were common and there’s also the story of a local celebrity pulling threads out of her face.

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Dr Romanowska waited until “technology caught up with this innovative concept”. Dissolvable threads were developed in the interim, but in her view “didn’t give longevity and some weren’t strong enough”. Now though, the procedure is being done with PDO (polydioxanone), the same dissolvable thread that has been used for sutures in abdominal surgery for decades. They take three to four months to dissolve, but during that time, the Velcro-like thread will have stimulated the production of collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid in the skin, so the lift may be maintained for up to two years.

I’d recklessly disregarded the instructions on the info sheet Dr Romanowska gave me during my pre-treatment consultation, which was to shave the area to be treated ahead of time. I knew I’d live to regret it as she began sticking operating theatre green paper over my hairline and ears. Turns out there’s more rip to it than a wax on winter legs.

Having numbed areas of my face with local anaesthetic, Dr Romanowska injects a cannula (long metal tube) carrying the blue thread into the subcutaneous fat layer of my left cheekbone and down towards my jaw. I can’t feel it but, ooh, I can definitely feel the right side. It’s all over quickly however. She gently presses and moulds the threads, which lift my sagging jawline as she goes. I urge her to pull tighter, but she’s all about natural results, whereas I lean towards the “more please” Courtney Love ideal. She snips the thread without pulling any tighter and dresses the injection sites.

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I’m handed a mirror and the results are impressive. I’m naturally asymmetric, but that’s no longer the case. My jawline is redefined but it looks natural. There is a small dimple on the left of my face, which Dr Romanowska delicately refers to as “pleating”. (She tells all patients a little “pleating” may result but it’s not always the case). Mine disappears in a few days.

Dr Romanowska is weighing up doing two horizontal threads in a month for my nasolabials folds, but is cautious, given I still have some of that permanent filler floating round in my face. I’m told the full results of this first treatment will be apparent in 6-12 weeks, but I’m already thrilled.

I could have gone out for a drink immediately after the procedure and no one would have been any the wiser that I’d had something done. Instead I went home and scrubbed “facelift” off the wish list altogether and replaced it with “thread lifts”.

Cost: $1600 for four threads from Clinic 42. (Available elsewhere also.)

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